Ep 2: A Library and Archives for Us: The Story of Gerber/Hart Library and Archives

On January 30th, 1981, Gerber/Hart Library and Archives opened its doors to the public. It was brought to life through the efforts of the Chicago Gay and Lesbian History Project and Gay Horizons. The starting collection was entirely donated and managed by volunteer staff. Volunteer staff are still “the backbone of Gerber/Hart”, doing everything from processing the archive and assisting patrons to curating exhibits and hosting events

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Erin Bell, podcast co-creator, in the archives

"[When you donate your documents, collections, or materials to a place like Gerber/Hart,] you are part of a community and a movement’s history."

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Mary and Ashlyn sorting ephemera

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Steven and Peter looking at Special Collections magazines

In addition to being a circulating library and an archives, Gerber/Hart hosts a variety of in-person and virtual events, from book talks, exhibit openings, and panels to a very popular used booksale.

"Communities taking the initative to make it happen”

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Audience at the 2019 opening exhibit program of Lavender Women and Killer Dykes: Lesbians, Feminism, and Community in Chicago. Finn Enke speaking at lectern

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Exhibit viewers at the 2018 exhibit opening of Gay is Good: Homophile Activism before Stonewall

In this episode, librarian and archivist Erin Bell discusses the early history of Gerber/Hart. Historian and author John D’Emilio describes queer history in the 1970s, bisexual and trans activism, and how individual donations were (and still are) crucial to the development of community archives and queer history.

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“Finding our history is going to be a tool for our liberation”

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Gerber/Hart at a Chicago Pride Parade in the early 1980s

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Gerber/Hart at the 1988 Chicago Pride Parade

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Gerber/Hart at the 2019 Chicago Pride Parade

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Exhibit curators at the 2018 exhibit opening of The City that Werqs: A History of Drag in Chicago

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2018 traveling exhibit at Affinity Community Services with Erin, Bex, and Tiffany

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SportsDykes and GirlJocks exhibit opening program panelists Jaime Dear and Yvonne Zipter

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H Stacks with tongue from Carol’s Speakeasy

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Jess, Anna, Erik, Michael, Rhonda, Whit and Chase (clockwise) working on a mailing

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Hannah Viti and Ari Mejia, podcast co-creators, recording in the archives

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